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Type IIC

Once again, this boat was simply a lengthened version of its immediate predecessor, with increased bunkerage. The Type IIC also had a lengthened control room and a second periscope. The Type IIC can easily be identified on photographs by the flush front to the tower, rather than the stepped front found on the IIA and IIB. Only eight Type IICs were built.


Length - 43.9 m

Beam - 4.1 m

Draft - 3.8 m

Displacement - 291 tons surfaced, 341 tons submerged

Speed - 12 knots surfaced, 7 knots submerged

Endurance - 4,200 nautical miles surfaced, 71 nautical miles submerged

Powerplant - 2 × 350 bhp MWM diesels coupled with 2 × 205 bhp electric motors

Armament - 3 bow torpedo tubes, 6 torpedoes carried, 1 × 2 cm flak gun

Crew - 25

Type IID

The Type IID, but for its small size, might almost pass for a Type VII with its enlarged conning tower with rear flak platform, and its distinctive saddle tanks. It had greatly increased range, and more up-to-date self-compensating fuel bunkers. 16 Type IIDs were manufactured.


Length - 44.0 m

Beam - 5.0 m

Draft - 3.9 m

Displacement - 314 tons surfaced, 364 tons submerged

Speed - 12.7 knots surfaced, 7.4 knots submerged

Endurance - 5,680 nautical miles surfaced, 71 nautical miles submerged

Powerplant - 2 × 350 bhp MWM diesels coupled with 2 × 205 bhp electric motors

Armament - 3 bow torpedo tubes, 6 torpedoes carried, 1 × 2 cm flak gun

Crew - 25

Operational Use

Ideally, all of the Type II vessels would have been relegated to training duties by the outbreak of war in September 1939. However, as Germany was nowhere near its intended submarine strength by this point, the need for operational Frontboote meant that many Type IIs had to be pressed into combat service. As the number of available Type VII and Type IX vessels increased, so Type IIs were released from combat service, once again for use with the training flotillas. By mid-1941, all Type IIAs and Type IIBs had been returned to training duty. Almost all of the Type IICs were used during the invasion of Norway before they too were gradually released back to the training flotillas.

This photograph shows U-2 (a Type IIA) at extreme left, next to U-15 and U-16, both Type IIBs. Note the flush front of the conning tower on the Type IIA and early Type IIBs, making the two visually very similar. The projecting housing on the side of the tower for the navigation lights is the only significant difference in appearance.

Three Type IIBs. The centre boat, U-12, built by Germaniawerft, has a stepped front to the tower, on which is fitted a DF loop. The other two boats pictured are Type IIBs from Deutsche Werke, with flush front to the tower.

Of the six Type IIA boats, U-1 was sunk by a mine, and all of the others took part in support operations in the invasion of Norway with U-2, U-5 and U-6 returning thereafter to training duties. U-3 had a slightly more eventful career, carrying out five war cruises and sinking two enemy ships before being relegated to training duties. U-4 took part in four war cruises, sinking three enemy ships and a British submarine, HMS Thistle, before joining the training flotilla.

Of the 18 Type IIB boats, many returned to training duties after the invasion of Norway. A total of 150 war cruises were carried out by these small coastal boats, however, with 97 enemy merchant ships and nine enemy warships being sunk. Though small, they had served their purpose well.

Six of the Type IIB vessels (U-9, U-18, U-19, U-20, U-22 and U-23) were despatched to the Eastern Front for service in the Black Sea against Soviet shipping. The diminutive size of these boats allowed them to be partially dismantled and loaded onto barges to be transferred as far as possible along inland waterways, then loaded onto large flatbed trailers and transported by road. These obsolescent boats succeeded in sinking a number of enemy ships. As fortunes on the Eastern Front went into reverse, it became impossible to consider taking them back to Germany by the same route. They were offered to Turkey and, on this being refused, were scuttled to prevent them falling into Soviet hands.

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